Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Although the provisions of both state and federal law that cruel and unusual punishments shill not be imposed are considered popularly to relate only to those punishments which exist solely in the books, the provisions are not useless today. Recent cases have shown a tendency to expand the scope of the prohibition, especially with regard to excessive punishment, and to incorporate the proscription within the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. As respect, that which likely will be deemed cruel and unusual, little can be done beyond noting those situations in which the limitation has been applied. If a generalization is required, it must be as uncertain as any other definition of a constitutional term: "[I]n order to justify a court in declaring any punishment to be cruel and unusual ...it must be so proportioned to the offense committed that it shocks the moral sense of all reasonable men as to what is right and proper under the circumstances."